Photo courtesy of Stronghold Digital Mining.

Stronghold Digital Mining

Science fiction predicted a lot of things, from self-aware robots to the Internet. But even Isaac Asimov would likely be mystified why we’d want to use abandoned coal refuse to mine for Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

But that’s what Stronghold does, with two plants — in Venango and Carbon counties — that convert coal refuse into power that is used to mine Bitcoin. Already, it has acquired thousands of computers and went public in October, raising $132.5 million. Stronghold is adding staff to an office in the Strip District, so you don’t have to commute down a mineshaft in Venango County to work.

An ugly downside to the boom in cryptocurrency is that it’s extremely energy-intensive (and thus emissions-intensive). Stronghold helps remediate land polluted by 19th- and 20th-century coal mining — which is abundant and the state’s largest source of water pollution — and burns it in an emissions-controlled manner to power Bitcoin mining computers. Byproducts include “beneficial use ash,” classified as a fertilizer — and, ultimately, healthier land. Stronghold says that 1,000 acres of unusable land have already been reclaimed.

Rendering of the Peregrine Lander courtesy of Astrobotic.

Astrobotic

OK, we’re going to make an exception to our rule for not repeating a company from 2021, because this year Astrobotic is literally going to the moon.

If everything goes according to plan, the Peregrine Lander will drop down on the moon’s surface this year, and the autonomous MoonRanger wheeled micro-rover will explore the lunar south pole. Plus, Astrobotic is opening the Moonshot Museum at its North Side headquarters, hoping to inspire new generations to pursue careers in science and the growing space-tech industry in Pittsburgh.

The company has received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from NASA, and will be carrying payloads from all over the world to the moon, including the MoonArk from CMU. It’s also hiring steadily for its North Side operations, which includes a mission control station from which Astrobotic will monitor the robots’ progress on the moon.

Rimsys

When you’re doing anything in the healthcare realm — you not only have to make your product work, you have to make it meet regulations. To make that progress easier, Rimsys has created a software platform that provides an automated, digital way to streamline global regulatory processes and get medtech products to market faster.

The company has raised $16 million in Series A financing from Silicon Valley’s Bessemer Venture Partners, which has successfully invested in the likes of Pinterest, LinkedIn and Yelp. Already the North Side-based Rimsys counts Johnson & Johnson and Siemens Healthineers as customers. The company employs 30 full-time workers and 30 contractors but could double or triple that number soon.

Meter Feeder

Ugh, the parking meter. Even though it’s a necessary evil, paying the meter is nobody’s idea of fun. Meter Feeder makes it easy and secure through an online app — just one button tap — so fumbling for quarters in your glove compartment may be a thing of the past.

Launched in 2015, the Braddock-based company has operations all over the country, but just rolled out its parking payment platform this summer in partnership with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

The wearable device from Apollo Neuroscience that is said to change moods.

Apollo Neuroscience

We all want less stress in our lives, right? (Is there anyone who needs more? Asking for a friend …) Well, Apollo Neuroscience, founded by the husband-and-wife duo of Dr. David Rabin and Kathryn Fantauzzi, makes wearable touch-therapy devices that help the body recover from stress through the power of low-frequency sound waves. They can be felt as small pulses on either your wrist or ankle and help strengthen and rebalance the nervous system for better sleep, focus and calm.

Apollo was named a World Changing Ideas Awards 2021: Wellness finalist by Fast Company. Products can be pre-ordered online for $349.